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Non-Fitness New Year’s Resolutions That’ll Make You a Better Man

Illustrations by Jori Bolton

Let’s be honest: New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken. That’s because most resolutions are really just self-inflicted punishment disguised as fitness goals (“Go to the gym!” “Ban sugar!” “Jog!”). It’s no wonder that 92% of them end in failure and expensive, unused gym memberships. Well, it’s a whole new decade, so there’s no better time to change your approach and set some achievable resolutions that’ll make you an all-around better person, not just one with abs. Consider smaller, short-term goals that will have a lasting impact on your overall well-being, that you’ll actually want to do, that are fun! Maybe it’s a hobby you’ve always wanted to try or simply making a decided effort to take your existing game to the next level. To help jumpstart your new New Year’s resolution, we’ve compiled a few unconventional ideas that might be of interest and talked to the pros to help you get things going. Think of this as your tangible first step to being your best self, without having to shame yourself along the way. 

Start Dressing Better. 

Stylist and former GQ fashion editor Lucy Armstrong has a few pro-tips that’ll help you instantly look better than a six-month stint at the gym. Start by stocking up on a brand-new suit or two, but be sure to schedule an appointment with a trusted tailor. “I think the most common mistake made when buying a suit is assuming you can buy off the rack with no tailoring at all. Even if you think the suit fits, you still need to hem the pants,” says Armstrong. “ It will make a world of difference. You should never have your pants all bunched up around your ankles; it’s just sloppy. Another easy tailoring move would be to slim the body of the jacket by taking in from the back.” 

Suits are your fast track to feeling like a million bucks, but there’s more to menswear. “I think guys are starting to realize that a nice, tailored pant can be just as comfortable as wearing a pair of jeans,” she says. “Taking one from Lebron, he’s always rocking dress pants with a hoodie and sneakers.” Once you’ve nailed the basics, get ahead of the game by incorporating some cutting-edge trends into your current wardrobe. “A few 2020 runway trends, that I think will stick for most guys is satin, cargo pants, and the co-ord,” says Armstrong.

Learn How to Properly Order Drink.

For those skipping Dry January, stop settling for vodka sodas or “whatever IPA you have on tap.” Your drinking game shouldn’t have peaked in college. Chris Lowder, the General Manager of Proof & Co. China and a world-class bartender who’s been in the business for 13 years, has a bottomless well of beverage knowledge that will help you unleash the full potential behind the bar. You’ll no longer fear the wine list or second guess whether you ordered that martini the right way. Step one is easy: “The first part of expanding your drinking horizons is to find out what you do and don’t like,” says Lowder. “I recommend that you find yourself a cocktail bar that is very good at classic cocktails because the classics are straightforward and you’re here to learn about you and not about some bartender’s instagrammable passion project.” Trying a range of different spirits and preparations will help you build up your drinking vocabulary and a frame of reference so you’ll know exactly what to tell your bartender (and what to avoid). 

On the wine front, Lowder admits that those menus are difficult to decipher for just about . . . everyone. Don’t rely on fancy naming conventions; just talk to the sommelier. Lowder suggests saying something like “‘I don’t know much about wine, but I just want something tasty that will pair with my (enter meal here). I am looking to spend around (enter price here) for the bottle, and tend to prefer wines that are on the (say either “dry” or “fruity”) side.’ That sentence will open more doors for you than you know, and the crazy thing is that nobody ever says this,” he says. 

Foster or Rescue a Dog. 

Dogs have held the title of “Man’s Best Friend” since forever, so why not return the favor and foster a pup? It’s more than just good karma; you’ll be offering a home and companionship for a dog in need while helping out your local shelter. It’s a win-win-win for everybody, and you may just find your new best buddy to start the new decade with. Follow Juliette Mazza’s lead. She’s the foster program manager at Muddy Paws Rescue, which is a 100% foster-based rescue  based in NYC that focuses on the positives of adopting and rescuing animals. “Fostering is a great way to feel out how owning a dog would fit into your lifestyle,” says Mazza. “While fostering in many ways is like dog-sitting, our fosters often get a great sense of the commitment of what fully owning a dog would be like . . . It’s possible to find the dog you are looking for, including hypoallergenic dogs and specific breeds in rescue, too. My advice is to just remain patient in the process and your dog will come.” 

Taking on a new pet may seem like a huge task, but it shouldn’t be intimidating. Local agencies like Muddy Paws are making it easier than ever to foster, from covering certain expenses to setting up mid-day walks for those with busier schedules. “The beauty of fostering is that pretty much anyone can foster,” she says. “A lot of people foster when work slows down or just on the weekends—even fostering one dog a year helps and makes a difference.” 

Take Better Pictures On Instagram.

Maybe you’re tired of your lackluster brunch grams, or you’re looking to see what that influencer life is all about. Polish your feed with a few moves from Andrew Goble, a photographer and writer who has nailed the #wanderlust formula. The photo fundamentals that will improve your social media cred can also be applied to upping your overall photo skills outside of the feed. “These three basic rules will serve you well: shoot a little underexposed, add your filter last, and sleep on your edit,” says Goble. “ When editing, use the adjustment sliders first—exposure, contrast, saturation are your friends—and slide them back and forth until the photo looks like what you saw. Then, and only then, add a filter—it will add a little “pop” without looking crazy.” After all that editing, take a step back for 30 min before posting, that way your eyes can adjust and you’ll get a fresh look at your handiwork. 

That’s only half the equation. A good photo starts with finding the perfect subject matter and nailing the shot. A tip from Goble: check out the Explore page on Instagram and see what’s popping in your city or wherever you may be traveling to. “The locals will still show you spots that are built for Instagram,” he says. It’s up to you and your eye to capture the most interesting frame and sparking that #Wanderlust for your followers. “A photo of the Eiffel tower? I can find that on Google—and a better version than yours,” says Goble. “A photo on the street next to the Eiffel Tower with you eating McDonald’s on a curb? Now I’m reminded that you’re out exploring while I’m on my couch.”